- Originally called Decoration Day
- After World War I, Memorial Day changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.
- It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays.
- The Veterans of Foreign War stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day.
As one who feels that traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. I've decided to dig into the history of Memorial day. To my surprise, I found many interesting facts including how a fashion trend started!
In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael created her own poem below. She then started a trend by wearing a red poppy on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation. She sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence.
I will be doing just that in an hour. Happy Memorial Day everyone and God bless America!